Earlier this week, I shared a Watermelon “Gin”ger & Tonic recipe that I adapted from the book “Zero” from the Alinea Group. The goal of this book is to give you the tools to make an amazing nonalcoholic cocktail that won’t make you miss the booze. Monday’s recipe was an ode to summer, as I had a late-season melon hanging around my kitchen. This one, however, is all fall (and a little winter): orange liqueur.
Orange liqueur is a great building block spirit that is a staple in any bar. Whether it’s triple sec or cointreau, you know it from drinks like margaritas and cosmopolitans. Those drinks may not have been orange-forward, but the beauty of the spirit lies in the floral lift that it gives to a drink. You can even have it alone for a stronger orange punch of flavor, mixed with sparkling water or even orange juice for a riff on the screwdriver.
The original version of this recipe called for a sous vide machine, which I would LOVE to have. As it is, I’m lucky my husband hasn’t divorced me from all of the ingredients, books, and tools I insist on buying, so adding another one doesn’t seem wise. While adapting this recipe, I chose to just boil all of the ingredients together and make a thin syrup that has the concentrated orange spice flavor in it. You want it to be real thin, I’m talking just barely sticking to the back of a spoon. One problem I had when developing my Sekahnjebin and Sweet Tea Syrup recipes was getting a thick syrup to dissolve in water to make the drink. I learned from those recipe tests to take it to just past the water stage, to where it has thickened to sweet thin stream when scooped with a spoon.
I also broke from the original recipe by using powdered spices, because I didn’t have whole cloves handy. Most home kitchens I’ve been in are missing whole spices and sous vide equipment, so hopefully my modifications help make this recipe more attainable! Once you make this alcohol-free version of a classic orange liqueur, you can add it to any number of cocktail recipes. I liked it with a simple orange and vanilla sparkling water, for a light spritz. Now that we’re coming into sweater season, it would be a great way to spice up some cider or other warm drink. As the orange is a winter fruit, we’re coming up on the perfect time to take advantage of the comfort it can provide! Who doesn’t love a bit of spiced orange in the winter? And this version comes without the next-day hangover – you really can’t beat it.
Do you have a special cocktail that you would like to see an alcohol-free version of? Let me know in the comments below and I might just have to make it! For now, let’s raise a glass of alcohol-free orange liqueur to good drinking, great eating, and even better living.
Orange Liqueur Sans Liquor
- Fine mesh strainer
- 7 oranges (quartered, peels intact)
- 550 g water
- 450 g sugar
- 1 tsp cloves
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Add all ingredients to a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for about two hours, or until the mixture is reduced enough to thinly coat the back of a spoon and run off easily. Start checking at an hour into the simmer for consistency, and stop before it gets too thick (or else it will be hard to mix into the final drink).
- Strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove oranges and any clumps of spices, and discard. Store the syrup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three weeks. Add to your favorite drink recipe in place of cointreau or triple sec, and enjoy!